Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Some in the EU are increasingly eager to leave Poland behind.

Posted by hkarner - 29. April 2017

Date: 27-04-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Europhiles happy about France should worry about Poland

In Europe’s illiberal east, populist nationalism is alive and well

IT IS crucial to keep Siemiatycze pretty, says Piotr Siniakowicz, the mayor, himself resplendent in bright-blue suit and silk pocket-square. The border with Belarus is a hop and a skip away, so this small town in eastern Poland may mark visitors’ first encounter with the European Union. Siemiatycze brims with well-maintained nursery schools and a gleaming sports centre, thanks to EU funds lavished on the region since Poland joined in 2004. Remittances from thousands of émigrés in Belgium have poured into handsome houses, and businesses depend on those who return for holidays: Siemiatycze, beams Mr Siniakowicz, boasts 50 hair salons. Not bad for a town of 15,000.

Yet despite all this, the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party took 38% of the vote here in 2015. A similar score nationwide won it a majority in parliament. Since then, PiS has set about dismantling Poland’s institutional checks and balances, alarming Polish liberals and startling the rest of the EU.

So amid Europe’s relief at Emmanuel Macron’s win in the first round of France’s presidential election on April 23rd, spare a thought for places like Siemiatycze. The unashamedly pro-European Mr Macron will almost certainly defeat Marine Le Pen in their May 7th run-off. But though the threat of populist nationalism may be receding in France, further east it is a daily reality. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Technology firms and the office of the future

Posted by hkarner - 29. April 2017

Date: 27-04-2017
Source: The Economist

Sofas and surveillance

Their eccentric buildings offer clues about how people will work

FROM the 62nd floor of Salesforce Tower, 920 feet above the ground, San Francisco’s monuments look piddling. The Bay Bridge, Coit Tower and Palace of Fine Arts are dwarfed by the steel-and-glass headquarters that will house the software company when it is completed later this year. Subtle it is not. Salesforce plans to put on a light show every night; its new building will be visible from up to 30 miles away.

It is not the only technology company erecting a shrine to itself. Apple’s employees have just begun moving into their new headquarters in Cupertino, some 70 kilometres away, which was conceived by the firm’s late founder, Steve Jobs. The four-storey, circular building looks like the dial of an iPod (or a doughnut) and is the same size as the Pentagon. At a price tag of around $5bn, it will be the most expensive corporate headquarters ever constructed. Apple applied all its product perfectionism to it: the guidelines for the wood used inside it reportedly ran to 30 pages. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Climate-change sceptics will shrug but such reactions are profoundly misguided. They just don’t give a damn

Posted by hkarner - 28. April 2017

Date: 27-04-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: The Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone

On current trends, the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040

THOSE who doubt the power of human beings to change Earth’s climate should look to the Arctic, and shiver. There is no need to pore over records of temperatures and atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations. The process is starkly visible in the shrinkage of the ice that covers the Arctic ocean. In the past 30 years, the minimum coverage of summer ice has fallen by half; its volume has fallen by three-quarters. On current trends, the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free in summer by 2040.

Climate-change sceptics will shrug. Some may even celebrate: an ice-free Arctic ocean promises a shortcut for shipping between the Pacific coast of Asia and the Atlantic coasts of Europe and the Americas, and the possibility of prospecting for perhaps a fifth of the planet’s undiscovered supplies of oil and natural gas. Such reactions are profoundly misguided. Never mind that the low price of oil and gas means searching for them in the Arctic is no longer worthwhile. Or that the much-vaunted sea passages are likely to carry only a trickle of trade. The right response is fear. The Arctic is not merely a bellwether of matters climatic, but an actor in them.

The current period of global warming that Earth is undergoing is caused by certain gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide. These admit heat, in the form of sunlight, but block its radiation back into space, in the form of longer-wavelength infra-red. That traps heat in the air, the water and the land. More carbon dioxide equals more warming—a simple equation. Except it is not simple. A number of feedback loops complicate matters. Some dampen warming down; some speed it up. Two in the Arctic may speed it up quite a lot. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to preserve the benefits of central-bank autonomy

Posted by hkarner - 28. April 2017

Date: 27-04-2017
Source: The Economist

Twenty years after the Bank of England was given independence, the powers of central banks are in the spotlight

ON MAY 6th 1997 Gordon Brown, freshly installed as Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, announced that he was giving the Bank of England the responsibility for setting interest rates. The bank would be charged with meeting an inflation target set by the government.

The move was hailed as a political masterstroke. It gave substance to the new Labour government’s claims to economic competence. Long-term borrowing costs fell sharply. The pound soared. The bank’s governor, Eddie George, was delighted. But joy was not unconfined. Within weeks Mr Brown, wary of an over-mighty central bank, stripped it of its responsibilities for bank regulation and public-debt management. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Disorder under heaven: America and China’s strategic relationship

Posted by hkarner - 22. April 2017

Date: 20-04-2017
Source: The Economist

After seven decades of hegemony in Asia, America now has to accommodate an increasingly powerful China, says Dominic Ziegler. Can Donald Trump’s administration manage that?

THE LAST TIME China considered itself as powerful as it does today, Abraham Lincoln was in the White House. At that time, and against the mounting evidence of Western depredations, the emperor still clung to the age-old belief that China ruled all under heaven, a world order unto itself. It never had allies in the Western sense, just nations that paid tribute to it in exchange for trade. Both China and “the outside countries”, he wrote to Lincoln, constitute “one family, without any distinction”.

Today, after a century and a half that encompassed Western imperial occupation, republican turmoil, the plunder of warlords, Japanese invasion, civil war, revolutionary upheaval and, more recently, phenomenal economic growth, China has resumed its own sense of being a great power. It has done so in a very different world: one led by America. For three-quarters of a century, America has been the hegemon in East Asia, China’s historical backyard.

But now China is indisputably back. New towers have transformed the skylines of even its farthest-flung cities. An ultra-modern network of bullet trains has, in a few short years, shrunk a continent-sized country. China’s new power rests on a 20-fold increase in economic output since the late 1970s, when pragmatic leaders set in train market-led reforms. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Trump’s indifference to climate change has not changed China’s view

Posted by hkarner - 22. April 2017

Date: 20-04-2017
Source: The Economist

Once a foot-dragger, it now wants to lead

RESIDENTS have found something else to blame for the toxic smog that envelops many Chinese cities for much of the year. Until recently the culprits that were usually fingered were the obvious ones: emissions from coal-fired power plants, exhaust fumes from cars and dust from building sites. This year, however, reports began to appear in state-run media that climate change is now reckoned to be a factor, too. Chinese scientists say that in eastern China global warming is resulting in less rain and wind to clear the pollutants. The government’s weather bureau illustrated its online account of the discovery with a picture of zombie-looking figures in hazmat suits shrouded by haze.

America’s president, Donald Trump, may have little interest in climate change: Wilbur Ross, his commerce secretary, said the subject was “not a major part of the discussion” when Mr Trump met his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, earlier this month. But in China the government, and increasingly the public, see it as a real danger, responsible for rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities as well as for aggravating droughts in the north, floods in the south and, as it now turns out, the omnipresent smog. Some people wonder whether Mr Trump’s indifference might reduce China’s willingness to take action against climate change. Why bother if the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases appears to have lost faith in the cause? Fortunately, there is no sign that China, the biggest emitter, is wavering. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The EFTA countries show how hard Brexit will be for Britain

Posted by hkarner - 15. April 2017

Date: 14-04-2017
Source: The Economist

Striking trade deals quickly is a bonus but what really matters is the quality of the deal

NORWAY offers much to envy. The food is tasty, public services are great and the people are impossibly good-looking. Its trade policy looks equally desirable. Though it trades heavily with the EU, Norway can also strike trade deals all over the world, either operating in concert with the three other members of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) or on its own. Members of EFTA have dozens of deals, including two with China, with which the EU cannot even start negotiations.

After it leaves the EU, Britain will look much like an EFTA country: a rich economy with close links to Europe, but also seeking trade deals elsewhere. It is superficially an attractive prospect. Yet EFTA’s half-in-half-out relationship with the EU hinders its trade as much as it helps. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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An abundance of money enhances economic efficiency and financial stability

Posted by hkarner - 14. April 2017

Date: 12-04-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Why the Federal Reserve should keep its balance-sheet large

HOW much money should exist? The Federal Reserve must soon confront this deep question. The Fed has signalled that towards the end of 2017 it will probably begin to unwind quantitative easing (QE), the purchase of financial assets using newly created bank reserves. The central bank’s balance-sheet swelled from about $900bn on the eve of the financial crisis to about $4.5trn by 2015 as it bought mortgage-backed securities and government debt (see chart). If and when the Fed shrinks its balance-sheet, it will also retire the new money it created.

Economists such as Milton Friedman popularised the study of the quantity of money in the 1960s and 1970s. By the financial crisis, however, the subject had gone out of fashion. The interest rate, it was agreed, was what mattered for the economy. The Fed varied the supply of bank reserves, but only to keep rates in the market for interbank loans where it wanted them to be. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Silicon Valley’s sexism problem

Posted by hkarner - 13. April 2017

Date: 12-04-2017
Source: The Economist

Venture capitalists are bright, clannish and almost exclusively male

“BOOBER” is the nickname Travis Kalanick, the boss of Uber, used to describe the effect that the ride-hailing startup had on his attractiveness to the opposite sex. Mr Kalanick’s wisecrack seems to have been emblematic of a deeply macho culture. An investigation is under way into allegations from a former employee that Uber refuses to promote capable women or to take complaints about harassment seriously. The results are due to be released in the coming weeks.

Uber is not the only technology star in the spotlight for its treatment of women. Google has been accused by America’s Department of Labour of paying female employees significantly less than male ones. Google flatly denies the charge. But that technology in general, and Silicon Valley in particular, has a gender problem is not in doubt. A survey of 210 women in the valley found that 60% had experienced unwanted sexual advances and that two-thirds felt excluded from important social and networking opportunities. PayScale, a research firm, has found that only 21% of American tech executives are female (the figure in other industries is 36%). Women in tech are paid less than men, even after controlling for experience, education and responsibilities. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Can Britons keep their EU citizenship after Brexit?

Posted by hkarner - 12. April 2017

Date: 12-04-2017
Source: The Economist

Though many would like to, it looks both legally and politically unlikely

MOST of those who regret Britain’s decision to leave the European Union now accept that Brexit is going to happen. But many are still scrabbling for an escape hatch. The 1m-odd Britons living elsewhere in the EU hope to have their residency rights confirmed early during the negotiations. Anyone with an Irish grandparent can apply for Irish citizenship—and plenty of people are. Marriage to an EU national is another trick, as is buying Maltese or Cypriot citizenship (though the price is steep).

The latest wheeze is to find a way to allow regretful Britons to retain their EU membership on an individual basis. Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister who is now the European Parliament’s point man for the Brexit negotiations, is promoting voluntary “associate EU citizenship” for Britons, an idea first put forward by a fellow MEP from Luxembourg, Charles Goerens. A paragraph in the parliament’s resolution on Brexit, adopted on April 5th, calls for some action to mitigate Britons’ loss of EU citizenship. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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